Media Gratiae was privileged to have the opportunity of attending the Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church earlier this month. It was a great conference with many encouraging sermons presented.
As with every conference we attend, we mixed fun and work. Even though we sat under wonderful preaching, we also worked to record a few episodes of the Behold Your God Podcast.
Matthew had a few minutes to talk with minister, professor, and author Dr. Sinclair Ferguson about his latest book Maturity: Growing Up and Going On In the Christian Life.
Those who are familiar with Behold Your God: The Weight of Majesty or Logic on Fire may recognize Dr. Ferguson since he is in those projects. He also contributed to Media Gratiae’s latest film Puritan: All of Life to the Glory of God.
This is not the first time Sinclair wrote about this issue, or even the first time he wrote this book. During the early years of his ministry, he was asked to write Add To Your Faith: Biblical Teaching on Christian Maturity. Now, with 40 years added to his experience, he reworked that original book from the perspective of an older, more mature man. The principles are the same, but the approach is completely new.
0:00 Matthew introduces this week’s special guest, Sinclair Ferguson. Sinclair began his ministry in 1971. Matthew gets him to share some of his early experiences, including owning a peat bog, and how he was first introduced to the world of writing books.
3:00 Matthew introduces the reason we have Sinclair on the podcast. He just published a new book that is not really a new book. Add To Your Faith was the first book Sinclair published. But he has rewritten the content. As he says in the introduction, it is a renewed and recalibrated book on an old subject.
6:00 Sinclair explains that maturity is becoming more like Christ. It is the way in which God transforms the life of Christians. Paul, in his letter to the church in Colossae, said he wanted to present each of them as mature in Christ. Therefore, it is a basic but important concept for the Christian life.
10:00 Add to Your Faith was originally published 40 years ago, when Sinclair was a young man. The teaching in the latest iteration of the book is the same, but Sinclair rewrote it for himself because of his added years of life and experience.
15:00 There are many things that can stunt mature growth in Christians. This can include a poverty of teaching, the creeping presence of prosperity gospel teaching, or even a belief that God loves us the way we are and doesn’t want to change anything about us. That is simply not a biblical truth.
Sinclair calls out the "Prosperity Gospel" as unbiblical and destructive in this section. For a very useful tool contrasting the biblical gospel with the false gospel of the prosperity / word of faith teachers, see the film American Gospel: Christ Alone.
20:00 The area of Christian maturity is one where we are especially tempted to try pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps and making ourselves right. Sinclair shares how sanctification and maturity are two ways of looking at the same thing. We must understand God will mature His children through His Word. He is not going to throw us back to our own resources but will glorify Himself by giving us of His boundless resources.
25:00 There is a way we can read the Bible that will encourage spiritual maturity. There is a way we can read the Bible that will inhibit spiritual maturity. Sinclar explains the two approaches and the switch that needs to be flipped so that we can grow while reading the Bible.
33:00 It is possible for Christians to underestimate the importance of growing in maturity. But the theme is present in nearly every book of the New Testament, including the Gospel accounts. In Luke 2, we read that Jesus grew in stature and favor with man and with God. Jesus grew not from sinfulness to holiness, but from the holiness of a 12-year-old boy to a 30-year-old man. Even within His sinless life there was spiritual growth. If that was true of Jesus, how much more so should it be true of us?
As with most other conferences we attend, we made a behind-the-scenes video for the 2019 Shepherds' Conference. But we will release that next week. For this week, we wanted to share Dr. Ferguson's sermon he delivered at the conference. We were personally encouraged and challenged by it and believe you will be as well.
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